We’re growing up so fast, mages. It seems like just yesterday we were starting out at level 1 in a broken world. Now we’re going to be 60 and in an even more broken world, except this time the quest rewards and zone flow hasn’t really been updated in the slightest. But we’re still going to have fun, right?
The rate at which you learn new spells of significance is going to slow down once you hit 50 or 60 and get into the outer expansions. Still, as you move to Outlands-range, you’ll get a couple of helpful spells before you leave. First up at level 52 is Blizzard. Blizzard is the AOE you will be using exclusively if you’re a frost mage due to awesome talents you get, and the so-so AOE you use when you’re Arcane – pair it with Presence of Mind (when you talent into it) and then use the buff to make it stronger, then cast an instant Flamestrike. Later on, Arcane Explosion will be strong enough to use in most situations where you can survive being in melee. But I digress. Horde mages in particular also get Teleport: Stonard and Portal: Stonard at this point, meaning you can successfully pull off such hilarious mage games as Portal Roulette*.
Frost Armor comes in at 54 – this is an essential for low-level PVP, especially around melee. It applies a slow to mobs or other players that attack you, as well as makes them hit slower. It also gives you 15 percent damage reduction. Booyah! Frost Armor plus any of your shields can keep you from taking a lot of deadlier hits from an enemy. However, if you are just leveling against mobs, I’d suggesting using Molten Armor and blow them up faster instead. Frostfire Bolt is shortly after at 56. Don’t be confused by this spell unless you are Frost. You will never use it as Arcane or Fire except possibly on the very rare occasions you come across a Fire AND Arcane resistant mob. Frost mages use this spell exclusively when they get Brain Freeze procs – up until this point you’ve been using Fireball. Swap Fireball off your bars and put Frostfire Bolt there now for easy access when you get a proc.
And what feels like far too late in the game, you finally get Arcane Brilliance at level 58. It feels like other classes get their proper group buffs very early on, so I wonder why Arcane Brilliance gets pushed back so far. Is it a relic of pre-leveling changes? Who knows. But now you can buff yourself or your party members with extra mana and spellpower. This buff used to be straight intellect but when the SP/INT change went into the game that was seen as a little too powerful.
Unlike every other bracket where you’ve gotten a powerful spell at the end, 60 has no new spells. However, you do have the ability to learn new versions of Polymorph if you choose to track them down. Beware though – some of them are costly, hard-to-get-to, rare, or holiday-related (x2).
It feels weird to backtrack a lot with talents, but picking talents up when they become useful by the virtue of getting the spells they enhance is a good thing, so don’t feel bad if your talent acquisitions feel similarly non-linear. I pushed ahead in Frost to pick up Ice Barrier. Ice Barrier is the only shield you will use as Frost just because it outstrips Mana Shield on every conceivable level. 30 second cooldown, but it shields you for a minute if the damage doesn’t destroy it, and doesn’t burn through your mana doing so. Its cooldown can also be reset using Cold Snap as well. Once you get Blizzard at 52, you can put full points into Ice Shards. This helps as you gain enough momentum to grind out numerous quest mobs at once; being able to slow them significantly as well as extend your reach on Ice Lance is beneficial to the solo player. I dropped a point into Improved Freeze. Whether you do 2 points in this, or put your last point into Enduring Winter is your choice. I opted for one point into Enduring Winter because I felt like I was chugging a little hard on mana in dungeons. Having your elemental being able to generate Fingers of Frost procs by using Freeze is a big boost to your DPS, but having mana cost reduction and group mana regen in dungeons (with the GO GO GO attitude) is also nice as well. You’ll be filling Improved Freeze in full in your next bracket, so whichever your choose is whatever feels more comfortable for your style of play right now. Your spec should look like this: (0/0/26).
Fire seems to be geared a lot more towards group play when you get down the tree (0/26/0) and I found myself sort of up a wall considering people who do other things like PVP or solo quest. First point goes into Dragon’s Breath, naturally. It is your short-range instant cast cone spell for Fire, much like Cone of Cold. Instead of slowing a mob, however, it will disorient it. This has a nice temporary crowd control effect (like Blind for rogues) but also can interrupt spell-casting if your timing is exceptional. Next, fill out Improved Flamestrike, as the extra Flamestrikes while casting Blastwave are a nice boost to your DPS. However, Molten Fury is only really helpful to people who are pelting high health mobs that live a long while (see: elites/bosses) and therefore make this “Execute” mechanic work. I dropped one point into it for now and put one point into Critical Mass, which while is technically good for everyone in your group, will help your own personal DPS later on. It’s really a hard sell. If you strictly solo quest, you might want to just take the 2 extra points and put them into Blazing Speed for now. You’ll have to do more respeccing when you reach higher levels, but it might be worth it if you like having fun talents.
The way that Arcane plays out near the end of the tree is similar; however, you don’t get any fun group buffs until a little later. Slow is your latest talent acquisition and it works similar to how Frostbolt does in that it slows down mobs or players you apply it to, however, it is a separately casted spell. For those of you who do not PVP, dropping two more points into Nether Vortex seems to make more sense, even if it is redundant. This way you get the slowing effect on top of your arcane blast spell. Easy peasy. The last two points go into Arcane Potency, which is a flat critical strike buff to your spells after you use Presence of Mind (making PoM + Blizzard/Flamestrike a really nice AOE combo if you aren’t dedicated to using Arcane Explosion) or gain Clearcasting. Sure, boring talents for the most part, but definitely useful. (26/0/0)
If you were paying attention to the links I posted for talents this time around, you’d notice that I included what glyph choices you should be making now that you unlocked an extra set of glyphs at level 50. As always, my patterns for picking out glyphs for your Prime, Major and Minor slots tend to work thusly – Prime glyph should now boost your second-most powerful spell, Major should enhance your second-most useful utility spell, and Minor should be for fun or extra usefulness.
- Glyph of Frostfire (Frost) – Additional damage as well as a DoT makes this a great choice for your Brain Freeze spell.
- Glyph of Pyroblast (Fire) – Similar to why I chose Frostfire Bolt for frost, adding critical strike chance to Pyroblast makes this attractive for additional Hot Streaks.
- Glyph of Arcane Missiles (Arcane) – It is your second highest casted spell and now it will crit for more. Arcane Barrage looks like an attractive choice, but overall, it is not worth it as you move into higher levels.
- Glyph of Ice Barrier (Frost) – Additional damage reduction from Barrier is a nice treat.
- Glyph of Dragon’s Breath (Fire) – Reducing the cooldown on this spell not only is useful for CC, but makes a difference on some raid fights later on.
- Glyph of Blink or Polymorph (Arcane) – Arcane does not have a lot of valuable Major Glyphs, so these are two solid options. Polymorph glyph is very handy if you do a lot of dungeons. Arcane Power is not available to you yet, so this is not a choice.
You can also substitute Blink or Polymorph for Dragon’s Breath with Fire, as well.
- Glyph of Conjuring, Arcane Brilliance or Glyph of Armors (Frost) – This is because Frost does not benefit from Glyph of Mirror Images.
- Glyph of Mirror Image – The only clear choice at this level for Fire and Arcane. While a mostly vanity change for Arcane mages, it is an actual DPS boost for Fire mages.
To use a glyph, click on the item in your bags. Then press “N” to open up your talents and glyphs panel (if you have not re-bound it, otherwise use the panel on your UI), and apply the glyph from your list to the circle slots.
Note: I am aware that glyphs, even ones for basic abilities, can be very expensive on some servers. As you are leveling, it is not as big of deal as it might seem if you don’t have glyphs right away. If you are short on cash, perhaps buy or gather some herbs and parchment and find a helpful guildie or person on your server to make it for you. Otherwise, you can wait until later to try and buy the glyphs you need. Don’t fret if you don’t have the big money in-game just quite yet. Save it for things like flying at level 60!
At this point in the game, gearing should be relatively intuitive and easy for you if you’ve been following my guides thus far. Intellect is still by far your best stat, with hit following behind it. However, remember the hit cap for most things you are doing at this point is only 6 percent, and most of the gear you acquire will not cap you. Don’t worry if you don’t, it isn’t a dealbreaker. Fire favors what little haste and crit you get on your gear (as well as Frost), and Arcane going with high amounts of intellect and crit would do just fine. The only problems you are going to run into is when you start using Outland gear, which hasn’t been itemized in the same way as revamped Cataclysm questing gear. A lot of it still includes Spellpower (which is in a 1:1 conversion with INT, however, SP does not increase your mana pool or your crit), as well as most of the item budget being given over to STA. Many pieces do not have secondary stats either. Make intelligent choices, but when in doubt, pick the gear that gives you the most INT or SP. You’ll outlevel it by 70, so don’t stress too hard about it. A smattering of gear from both the 50s and late 50s will carry you well into the 60s.
Some items to look out for before you hit Outlands though:
Hood of the Royal Wizard/Hood of the Arcane Path – Alliance and Horde versions of the reward from doing the level 50 mage quest. The quest requires you to go into Blackrock Depths (which you will be doing a LOT of if you do Dungeon Finder) and kill Pyromancer Loregrain and some of his cronies. The hood is a duplicate of the Tier 1 mage hat that you can get from Molten Core.
Circle of Flame – Rare epic drop off Ambassador Flamelash in Blackrock Depths.
Anastari Heirloom – Necklace from Baroness Anastari in Stratholme.
Band of Sacrifice – Quest reward ring from Blasted Lands.
Burst of Knowledge – Drop off Ambassador Flamelash in Blackrock Depths.
Essence of Eranikus’ Shade – Quest reward from Sunken Temple.
*Portal Roulette is the best mage game where you cast every portal you have all on-top of each other and people get sent somewhere randomly.